Tue, Sep 12, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Froome hails his greatest sporting accomplishment

AFP, MADRID

Britain’s Chris Froome of Team Sky, front left, rides in the peloton in the final stage of the Vuelta a Espana in Madrid on Sunday.

Photo: Reuters

Chris Froome on Sunday hailed his greatest sporting achievement after becoming just the third rider in history to win the Vuelta a Espana and the Tour de France in the same year.

Team Sky’s Froome beat four-time Grand Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali of Bahrain-Merida by 2 minutes, 15 seconds, with Russian Ilnur Zakarin of Team Katusha-Alpecin completing the podium in the general classification.

Matteo Trentin of Quick-Step Floors claimed his fourth victory of the race on the 21st and final stage.

“I would say this victory is special because it is the first time anyone who has ever won the Tour de France and gone on to win the Vuelta a Espana starting less than one month apart,” Froome said.

The Briton joins Frenchmen Jacques Anquetil (1963) and Bernard Hinault (1978) as the only riders to win the Tour and Vuelta in the same year, but Froome is the first man to win both races since the Vuelta was moved to after the Tour in the racing calendar in 1995.

“That was a huge challenge from an athletic point of view, to try and be at the top level for that long was such a big challenge,” he said.

Froome, a four-time winner of the Tour de France, had previously finished runner-up at the Vuelta in 2011, 2014 and last year.

The Team Sky rider led the race all the way from stage three to Madrid thanks to wins on stage nine and the individual time trial on stage 16.

“To have been here for the past six years trying to win the Vuelta and being three times second it is such an amazing feeling to have eventually won this red jersey,” Froome said. “It is really emotional and at this moment I couldn’t be happier.”

Trentin continued his domination of the few sprint stages of the three-week race after a 117.6km ride from Arroyomolinos to Madrid, ending in a nine-lap circuit through the center of the Spanish capital.

However, he was denied the green jersey for the points classification by an insatiable Froome, who sprinted to maintain his lead by finishing 11th on the stage.

“It was a risk sprinting trying to get points for the green jersey,” Froome said. “There is a big risk of crashing in the final, but at the end of the day I’m a bike racer and there is a competition. It was probably the only chance in my career to ever win the points classification in a Grand Tour.”

Trentin was surprised by Froome’s tactics, but proud as the only sprinter to have competed for the jersey in a race filled with demanding mountain climbs.

“He told me he wanted to defend it and he did,” Trentin said. “With four victories I don’t have the jersey, it’s kind of a joke. It is a pity, but I can survive.”

There was also an emotional send-off for Alberto Contador on his final day as a professional cyclist.

The three-time Vuelta winner signed off in style with victory on the steep mountain climb to Alto de l’Angliru on Saturday and was given the honor of leading the peloton around the first lap of the Madrid circuit.

“The whole race has been special,” said Trek-Segafredo’s Contador, who also performed a lap of honor before the adoring Spanish crowds. “Yesterday was as good as it gets. It was a stage I’ll always remember and I feel very fortunate.”

A winner of seven Grand Tours, Contador is one of just six riders to have won all three — the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana.

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